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Collection Number: 04551

Collection Title: William Henry Tripp and Araminta Guilford Tripp Papers, 1801-1910

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Size 1.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 440 items)
Abstract William Henry Tripp (1820-1881) and his wife Araminta Guilford Tripp (1833-1897) grew corn and other crops at Durham's Creek, Beaufort County, N.C., 1850s-1880s. William was a state legislator in the 1850s and, during the Civil War, commanded Company B of the 40th North Carolina Infantry Regiment. The collection contains chiefly correspondence between William and Araminta during William's army service, 1861-1865, at Fort Fisher, Fort Holmes, and Fort Alexander, all on the North Carolina coast. Most letters are from William, who wrote of camp life, his own health, blockade running, and the conduct of the war in general. He also offered advice on how the farm was to be run in his absence. Type transcriptions of most letters are included. There are also financial and legal materials, slave bills of sale, and other items that relate to William's early political career, to Araminta, or to other Tripp family members. Also included are one diary of Araminta, 1857-1858, with brief, almost daily, entries chiefly about family and neighborhood activities and her work around the farm and home, and three diaries of William, 1854-1860, with brief, almost daily, entries chiefly documenting work done on the farm by William and/or his slaves, but also mentioning family and neighborhood activities. There are also a few printed advertisements for various products.
Creator Tripp, Araminta Guilford, 1833-1897.

Tripp, William Henry, 1820-1881.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the William Henry Tripp and Araminta Guilford Tripp Papers #4551, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mrs. E. C. Wright of Ruffin, N.C., and Mrs. Paul Tate Junior, of Mobile, Ala., in April 1990, July 1991, October 1992, and April 1994 (Accession # 94052).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

The Tripp family appears to have settled in eastern North Carolina in the early 1700s. William Henry and Araminta Guilford Tripp, who married in 1853, farmed at Mount Hope farm on the Pamlico River near Durham's Creek (sometimes called New Durham's Creek) in Beaufort County. Corn seems to have been their chief cash crop. They also raised hogs and other animals for their own consumption and to feed a small number of slaves. The Tripps had ten children: Josephus, born 1852; Lavinia, born 1855; Benjamin, born 1857; Rebecca, born 1859; Thomas, born 1861; Grace, born 1865; Eliza, born 1867; Guy, born 1870; Edwin, born 1873; and Mary, born 1877.

William served in the North Carolina legislature during the 1850s and also with the North Carolina militia. He volunteered for military service in September, 1861, and was commissioned a captain in the Confederate Army. He commanded Company B (Artillery) of the 40th North Carolina Regiment. William and his men were stationed at Fort Fisher, which guarded the vital port at Wilmington, April 1862-January 1864; at Fort Holmes on Smith Island, where William commanded the entire seaward side of the island, February 1864-January 1865; and, for a short time in early 1865, at Fort Anderson on the Cape Fear River. From Fort Holmes, they journeyed down the coast to help in the defense of Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. William resigned his commission in late January 1865, his letter of resignation stating that he had served since September 1861, was now 45 years of age, and had a large family "with no white male above the age of eleven." (William owned or employed from ten to fifteen adult slaves, but his ownership is uncertain.)

While William was in the army, Araminta supervised the farm. Araminta's role was a point of anxiety for both William and herself--it seems that she was unhappy with the work and frustrated by her inexperience. William, for his part, sent detailed instructions to her on how to manage farm business. Both of them considered the arrangement to be a necessary but very unpleasant response to wartime conditions.

After the war, William returned to Durham's Creek. His last employment seems to have been as an enumerator for the 1880 United States census. He died in 1881. Araminta carried on alone for another sixteen years, dying in 1897.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Of primary interest in this collection is the wartime correspondence between William Henry Tripp, captain in the Confederate Army and commander of Company B of the 40th North Carolina Regiment, and his wife, who supervised the family farm in her husband's absence. The great majority of letters are from William to Araminta, probably because of William's practicing of destroying Araminta's letters, which, while precious to him, would have given too much family and strategic information to the enemy had he been captured. While the collection offers a somewhat one-sided view of the dialogue between husband and wife, William was a careful writer with great powers of description, so it is often possible to derive a fairly clear picture of what was going on at home by reading only his end of the conversation. His descriptive abilities and great honesty also make his letters a compelling record of the daily routines, stresses, and combat experience of an important Confederate fort. He spent a fair amount of time discussing the merits and faults of those he supervised and those who supervised him. He also indulged in a bit of soul searching, assessing his reactions to deserters and shirkers and attempting to evaluate his fears of being a coward.

William wrote of camp life, battles he witnessed or heard about, the comings and goings of officers and men, and the Confederacy's chances for victory and, later, survival. The waxing and waning of Confederate aspirations is evident in his letters. In a letter of 12 May 1862, he wrote, "You must give my best regards to all my negroes. Tell them to take care of what I have and it will be a crown of glory to them and when I come home each one shall have a nice present." By 12 November 1864, Confederate prospects had worsened considerably: "[I]n my judgement slavery is dead as a last year's caught herring. It makes no difference how this war ends or when it ends slavery is dead and we had as well prepare for it at once."

Additionally, William wrote about his mental and physical health, his love for Araminta and their children, and, given his survival, his hopes for the future. The few letters from Araminta to William largely pertain to family life.

There are several letters (circa 1861-62) from Araminta's brother, Felix N. Guilford, addressed to her. Araminta's cousin Fenner Guilford is also represented by a few letters. Of the small number of pre-war letters, some relate to North Carolina politics. Post-war letters are almost exclusively family correspondence and chiefly reflect the efforts of family members to open or re-open channels of communication with other family members.

Also included is a group of financial materials, chiefly accounting sheets; a slightly smaller group of legal materials, primarily deeds and indentures; and some miscellaneous items. There is also one diary of Araminta, 1857-1858, and three of William, 1854-1860 (all also available on microfilm).

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1841-1910.

About 255 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Correspondence, chiefly between William Henry and Araminta Guilford Tripp, with a small number of letters relating to other family members. All letters are accompanied by typed transcriptions.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1841-August 1861.

Includes letters to William Henry Tripp from several friends who discuss North Carolina Whig politics, and one letter dated 5 June 1856 from Araminta's brother about his studies. Also included are letters from William's sister regarding a courtship he was pursuing (circa 1851), and letters from her and other family members during the first months of the war.

Folder 1

1841-August 1861 #04551, Subseries: "1.1. 1841-August 1861." Folder 1

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. October 1861-February 1865.

Chiefly letters from William Henry Tripp to Araminta Guilford Tripp, with occasional letters from other family members to Araminta. William's letters document his career in the Confederate Army as captain and commander of Company B of the 40th North Carolina Regiment. He and his men were first stationed at Fort Fisher, outside Wilmington, N.C., April 1862-January 1865; and then at Fort Holmes on Smith Island, N.C., February 1865; and Fort Alexander on the Cape Fear River, from which he retired his commission in late January 1865. William wrote of camp life, battles he had witnessed or heard about, comings and goings of officers and men, and the Confederacy's chances for victory and, later, survival. The waxing and waning of Confederate aspirations is evident in his letters home. William also wrote about his mental and physical health, his love for Araminta and their children, and, given his personal survival, his hopes for the future. Many letters give detailed instructions to his wife on how to manage the farm. The few letters from Araminta to William are largely chatty records of family life.

There are also a few letters from Araminta's brother, Felix N. Guilford, to her and to their parents. These begin in 1861 and carry on until his death around July 1862. Araminta's cousin Fenner is also represented by a few letters.

Folder 2

October-December 1861 #04551, Subseries: "1.2. October 1861-February 1865." Folder 2

Folder 3

1862 #04551, Subseries: "1.2. October 1861-February 1865." Folder 3

Folder 4

January-June 1863 #04551, Subseries: "1.2. October 1861-February 1865." Folder 4

Folder 5

July-December 1863 #04551, Subseries: "1.2. October 1861-February 1865." Folder 5

Folder 6

January-May 1864 #04551, Subseries: "1.2. October 1861-February 1865." Folder 6

Folder 7

June-December 1864 #04551, Subseries: "1.2. October 1861-February 1865." Folder 7

Folder 8

January-March 1865 #04551, Subseries: "1.2. October 1861-February 1865." Folder 8

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. March 1866-1910.

Almost exclusively family correspondence, chiefly reflecting the efforts of family members to open or re-open channels of communication with other family members. Also included are some letters addressed to William from former members of his company.

Folder 9

March 1866-1869 #04551, Subseries: "1.3. March 1866-1910." Folder 9

Folder 10

1870-1910 #04551, Subseries: "1.3. March 1866-1910." Folder 10

Folder 11

Undated #04551, Subseries: "1.3. March 1866-1910." Folder 11

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Financial materials, 1840-1872 and undated.

About 80 items.

Arrangement: roughly chronological.

Accounting sheets, tax receipts, and other items relating to William Henry and Araminta Guilford Tripp and other Tripp and Guilford family members. Items from the 1860s include a bill of sale for a slave to William Henry Tripp's mother and several accounting sheets relating to Tripp's Company B of the 40th North Carolina Regiment.

Folder 12

1840-1857 #04551, Series: "2. Financial materials, 1840-1872 and undated." Folder 12

Folder 13

1862-1869 #04551, Series: "2. Financial materials, 1840-1872 and undated." Folder 13

Folder 14

1870-1872 and undated #04551, Series: "2. Financial materials, 1840-1872 and undated." Folder 14

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Legal materials, 1801-1882 and undated.

About 50 items.

Arrangement: roughly chronological.

Plats, deeds, indentures, wills, and other legal papers of Tripp family members. Early papers, 1801-1835, relate to Tripp family members of William Henry Tripp's parents' and grandparents' generations. They deal chiefly with land transactions. Later papers relate to William's activities and, after his death in 1881, to Araminta's business transactions.

Folder 15

1801-1835 #04551, Series: "3. Legal materials, 1801-1882 and undated." Folder 15

Folder 16

1842-1854 #04551, Series: "3. Legal materials, 1801-1882 and undated." Folder 16

Folder 17

1862-1882 #04551, Series: "3. Legal materials, 1801-1882 and undated." Folder 17

Folder 18

Undated #04551, Series: "3. Legal materials, 1801-1882 and undated." Folder 18

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Diaries, 1857-1860.

4 items and 1 reel of microfilm (M-4551/1).

Diaries of William and Araminta Tripp. Araminta's contains brief, almost daily entries, chiefly about family and neighborhood activities. Many entries document the work Araminta did around the farm and home. William's contain brief, almost daily entries, chiefly documenting work done on the farm by William and/or his slaves, but also mentioning family and neighborhood activities.

Folder 19

Araminta Tripp, 1 March 1857-30 December 1858 #04551, Series: "4. Diaries, 1857-1860." Folder 19

Circa 200 pages

Folder 20

William Tripp, 1 January 1854-13 March 1855 #04551, Series: "4. Diaries, 1857-1860." Folder 20

Circa 150 pages

Folder 21

William Tripp, 19 March 1857-19 November 1858 #04551, Series: "4. Diaries, 1857-1860." Folder 21

Circa 200 pages

Folder 22

William Tripp, 1 January 1859-8 September 1860 #04551, Series: "4. Diaries, 1857-1860." Folder 22

Circa 250 pages

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 5. Other Papers

About 50 items.

Photocopies of William Henry Tripp's military records, 1862-1865, including his 2 January 1865 letter of resignation (originals in National Archives); genealogical materials; and miscellaneous items. Genealogical materials consist of a typed Tripp family genealogy and a family tree. Miscellaneous items include a booklet advertising International Quick Cleaner and a printed election returns tally sheet for the 1851 Eighth North Carolina Congressional District.

Folder 23

Photocopies of William Henry Tripp's military record #04551, Series: "5. Other Papers" Folder 23

Folder 24

Genealogical materials #04551, Series: "5. Other Papers" Folder 24

Folder 25

Miscellaneous #04551, Series: "5. Other Papers" Folder 25

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Processing Information

Processed by: Roslyn Holdzkom, May 1990; Ryan Teall, July 1993

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Updated by: Kathryn Michaelis, February 2010

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